Tableside with Lilly Burdsall

For nearly a decade, Lilly Burdsall has been stocking all classes at Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute, overseeing the purchase and use of upwards of $1 million of food each year—that’s one heck of a grocery bill.

What’s the Institute’s focus? We like to say that it’s a business program with a culinary component. Our culinary, pastry, and hospitality management programs are all run out of the business technology division at Cincinnati State.

And you have a strong business component to your role as well. I think people would be surprised by the amount of research and data that goes into what I do—that it’s not just, “This tastes good, let’s get it.”

How do you know what to buy each term? I used to do it all with an Excel spreadsheet. Now we have a software program, which has helped us reduce costs. Instructors would say, “I need 10 pounds of spinach for this class,” but now the computer says 4 pounds.

Does your background in cooking help you make those judgement calls? There are some things you can’t buy too much of around here. I never want to run out of butter or eggs.

You’ve got some super-star graduates. This place has had a huge, huge impact on the quality of food in Cincinnati. I think a number of things have affected that, and I think one is the Midwest Culinary Institute, and another is Jean-Robert [de Cavel]—I love to go out to eat here.

Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu

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